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Ana Kraš inspired lampshade

This is Ana Kraš.

ana n monkey

She makes bonbon lanterns.


She lives in New York with Devendra Banhart. This is what she looks like threading a lantern.

ana making

My ‘creative space’ looks a little different to this. The floor is a mine field of hoola hoops. Daughter is learning how to hoop, ‘look at me mum, look at me!’ Son is elbow deep in mushed pear. The noodles are boiling over. Ah, the serenity.

I tried to make an Ana Kraš inspired lampshade. It all started well. First wool..


then twine..


more wool..


This is when I became impatient and started using ribbon..


more ribbon..


then fabric. oh dear.

end result3

This Pinterest analogy pretty much sums it up.

1 nailed it

Fortunately we’re going to see Devendra play tomorrow night. This should cheer me up a bit!

1 on head



Cowboy Craft table

I looked down at La Mesa disapprovingly. It looked back up at me, all doe eyed and floral flanked.

Its’ beetles, bugs and butterflies sparkled silver in the afternoon light…

Deer table

Hmm. You do not do, you do not do, anymore black shoe (aptly put Sylvia Plath), however I am not talking about a black shoe, but a mesa…a table… specifically my daughter’s craft table. Appropriately whimsical when she was a toddler, her daily reminders of what a big girl she is, made me soon realize that it was time for a craft table makeover. I refurbished this table about a year ago. As she will be sharing it with a brother within weeks, it manned up in the nick of time! Out with the reindeer and in with the raw hide.


This was originally a plain pine table that I refurbished into a girls craft table: see Oct 2012 post ‘Doe a Deer.’

1 Painting table in Kosciosko pebble

Firstly I painted the table top with left over house paint (Kosciusko Pebble) and rubbed it back to a light white colour before spraying with one coat of copper coloured spray paint. Randomly rested horse shoes on table surface. In the absence of real horse shoes, cardboard stencils would suffice.

2 place horse shoes on table

With thick brush strokes, painted dark blue oil paint round the horse shoes, diluting the paint with linseed oil for quicker and thinner coverage.

3 light copper spray then paint around horse shoe

Dabbed a cloth in methylated spirits and randomly rubbed back dark blue paint on table top here and there to reveal light blue and copper colours underneath.

4 the horse shoe table

With a stencil knife and book covering contact, drew and cut out Yee-ha boots. Peeled paper backing off and placed sticky side down onto clean and dry table surface before painting stencil in with lime green oil paint.

5 cowboy shoe stencil

Just add children and chairs. H-yah!

8 six chairs around table

rawhide cowboy


Sebel Stak-A-Bye Chairs

When was the last time you saw a Two Tonne Welsh woman advertising outdoor furniture?

Tessie cropped

In 1947 Tessie O’Shea, a Welsh entertainer and actress was at the height of her fame and the spokeswoman for Sebel Stak-A-Bye chairs. These pressed metal chairs with sweeping tubular legs were Sebel’s first chair. Having freshly disposed of their war time ration cards, the British were ready to come out of their bunkers and into their gardens. Their “cheerful colour contrasts” and “almost indestructible plastic finish” made them an instant success.

To this day Sebel still operates from its original site at Bankstown, NSW, Australia. Established in 1947 by Harry Sebel who emigrated to Australia from post WWII Britain, he started Sebel with his father David, a metalworker Russian emigree. The production of these chairs ceased in 1958, however with the recent revival of vintage mid-century furniture, they’ve made a comeback. You can’t pass a cafe strip from Newtown to Newington that doesn’t have a Stak-A-Bye out front!

These are mine. They stack nicely and serve well as extra outdoor chairs. The blue ones are a bit flaky and as am very pregnant it will be a while before they see a fresh lick of paint. However, with a cushion or two they do just lovely.

1 Sebel stak a bye chairs

Pre-pregnancy I did manage to refurbish a set of Sebel Hobnob Junior chairs from the early 70’s. I bought these second hand. They were a sickly looking crayon pocked, toddler sticky set of peach chairs. After a thorough soap scrub and hose down I set to transforming these chairs to accompany the kids outdoor table. Getting the chairs to a shiny new Plastic Fantastic look was no small feat.


Step 1: With paint brush coat down every square inch of plastic chairs with Grip Lock Primer. I used the White Knight brand.

Plastic chairs then add primer

Step 2: Once dry I tried a variety of spray paints however found that Killrust in a can works best. Spray even strokes starting at the top and work your way across left to right on your way down. For more intense colour and better coverage of primer, spray paint evenly one coat at a time. Wear a face mask as this stuff really stinks and can render one devoid of smell for a full day. Despite all this it was worth the effort as gone was putrid peach and in came a combination of bright yellow seats with silver legs, silver seats with canary yellow legs, blue and deep Indian red plastic chairs.

3 plastic coated chairs I

3 Grip lock primer on hobnob

This is what they look like around the kids outdoor table.

4 finished refurbished sebel kids chairs



Refurbishing Vintage Patio Chairs

Recently in Melbourne we stumbled across Hosier Lane, walls filled with bright street art from sidewalk to skyline. It’s amazing how transforming spray paint can be.


And so, once again I find myself turning to killrust in a can. It’s extremely durable for spray painting outdoor furniture. I painted these vintage (50’s?) wrought iron chairs several months ago. There were four Vintage Iron chairs in total; two tubs chairs and two rocking chairs. All were in a flaky and slightly rusted condition, so washed them then sanded them back to smooth surfaces. Spray painted them with one coat of Killrust in brown before painting 2 coats of liquid Killrust in Vintage Green. 

refurbished black chairs

refurbished rockers

Until recently these chairs were a place where pillows went to die, foraged from sofas and armchairs. Now we have matching Pillow Perfect outdoor cushions in a retro birds and vines print.

These puppies are plush! 5 inches of padding and a beverage of choice make for a perfect weekend spot.



If you live in Sydney and would like to see some street art in the making, head to Hazelhurst Gardens, Gymea on Friday the 15th of February, 2013. Starting between 10 – 11am, Beastman will be spray painting a mural, where it will remain until April 1.



I would love to go, but find it increasingly difficult to get out of these chairs!


If I were a Peacock Painter

When you look back on your life, and ponder the choices you have made, do you have one that you wish you did differently? The one that REALLY stands out from all the others? The shining beacon of all clangers?

The big one for me was NOT being an audience member on an Oprah show. Not just any Oprah show but one specific one. Over 2 years ago she did an ‘Australia’ piece. They were looking for Aussie butts on seats for a story on ‘Up and coming Australian Designers.’ Sadly I declined the chance to go as had just moved to Chicago and didn’t know anyone I could entrust my daughter with. The offer of leaving her with hair and make-up just didn’t cut it! Turns out the fashion story was a pfaff. We found out later that in her last episodes, Oprah went out with a bang! And this was one of those…. every member in that audience reached under their seats and found they had won a trip to Australia!

Oprah & Koala

….if I could turn back time…

In my next life, this is another thing I would love to do…..to be a Peacock Painter! Since 2008, this amazing group of women have made annual pilgrimages to Morocco to stencil the Peacock Palace, a boutique hotel in Marrakesh.

 Some of their beautiful stencil work

Peacock Painters Collage I

1 Peacock pavilions mirror

Peacock Painters Collage IIAlas, a schmuck like myself has to contend with stencilling furniture and childrens décor.

Below are photos of my efforts using stencils in a much less exotic manner!

Floral Screenprint

My stencils Collage 2

My stencils Collage I

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Rock Lobster!

Dr. Suess, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl all wrote nonsensical stories and poems. Nonsense writing can often be alluring because of its’ surprisingly deep meaning:

“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind.”

And at other times from it’s complete lack of it:

When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles
and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…
…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle
bottle paddle battle.”


Nonsense literature is a beguiling form of storytelling as humans desire to find meaning everywhere, in everything, even when none exists. Songwriting is also a form of storytelling, and so is open to nonsense lyrics.

The B52’s wrote a hit song in 1978 called “Rock Lobster.” It’s jam packed with nonsense lyrics, bopping, banshee shrieks and beehives to boot.

We were at a party
His ear lobe fell in the deep
Someone reached in and grabbed it
It was a rock lobster

Indebted to the joy of nonsense poetry and the humble rock lobster, I refurbished a plain timber set of chairs “Rock Lobster” themed.


I had previously painted the chairs in an Indian Red indoor paint which was not holding well in the great outdoors.

Sanded off the flaky bits and repainted all chairs with a more durable Cherry red liquid killrust.

1 chairs Delicious red

Loosely glued doilies to chairs and spray painted over them with Indian Red killrust in a can.


Loosely glued handmade coral stencils to chairs and then spray painted over them with killrust in a can in Ocean Blue.

1 coral stencil and on chairs

Loosely glued the lobster, crab and puffer fish stencils to chairs. Painted inside stencils with oil paints.

1 rock lobster stencil then on chairs

1 crab stencil and on chairs

5 Last 4 square

Now my BBQ setting is all ready for summer snags and sizzles!

4 All six chairs

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Pimp my Sink!

Some find beauty in decay, disrepair and disuse. Forgotten buildings, abandoned cars and overgrown graveyards.

derelict chic

Sound poetic? Not my bathroom. That room is in disrepair, constant use and just plain ugly.

How to Revamp a Bathroom cabinet and sink.

Originally the bathroom cabinet and basin were washed out and chipped…

1 white painted top

Since I was working with spray paint, I covered surrounding areas with newspaper. Glued a stencil sheet to the basin surface and starting spraying.

2 blue spray paint stencil

Once dry, used a white interior paint and rubbed over surfaces to make a chalk board like effect.

3 shabby white



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Starfish Childrens Table and Toy Chest

The starfish is a star shaped marine animal with spiny skin (echinoderm) and typically 5 legs.

If a starfish drops a leg in combat, it grows back within a year.

If a starfish is chopped into pieces, each piece can grow into a whole new starfish!

Pretty clever, for something that has no brain.

In tribute to this re-generative, brain-dead echinoderm, I refurbished a children’s table and toy chest, “starfish” themed.

The Starfish Toy Chest

The toy chest was originally a light lilac blue colour.

Around the sides of the chest, I randomly spray painted parts in Ocean blue. Then with thick brush strokes I painted mustard to resemble sand. Lastly added green and yellow tinges along the corners with oil paints by smearing down with a cloth.

I painted the interior of the toy chest and just the top of the lid in white. Once dry, lightly glued paper shaped starfish to surface. Spray painted with two coats of Ocean blue. Removed paper star fish and painted dots in the centre and along the arms of stars with oil paints.

While still damp I painted the surface with a coat of varnish to make the dots look a little smeared, like water passing over starfish.

The Saw Horse Starfish Table

Husband drilled planks of wood along the two saw horse legs. With a thick brush I painted both the table top and saw horse legs with British Paints White Opal. Then spray painted the legs with two coats of Ocean Blue Killrust.

Using standard A4 paper, I cut out a few starfish shapes and lightly glued them to the white table top. Sprayed over it with Ocean Blue Spray paint. Removed the paper stars and painted dots in the centre and along the arms of stars with oil paints.

While the table top was damp I varnished the surface, mixing in a touch of yellow oil paint to give it a blue-green streaky tinge, like sea water covering starfish.

The matching Starfish Set…

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Doe a Deer

Doe, a dear, a female deer. Unlike the dulcet tones of family von Trapp, my families suburban cycles sounded more like a cat in a bag. Bewitched by those dang catchy lyrics, we stubbornly persisted anyway. “When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything. No Maria. not really. In this way we were much like the deer….unwavering and bull-headed. When a deer has marked his or her habitat and settled in, they would rather starve to death than leave it in search of food. If I have the home, the food will come!

In tribute to this velvet antlered woodland creature I have attempted to convert a plain pine coffee table into a whimsical childrens craft table.

How to refurbish a pine coffee table into a kids craft table.

Painted the table top in mustard and the legs in blue. On the legs rubbed back a coat of white.

Made deer stencil from on contact (the sticky plastic sheets used to cover books).
Using the stencil, painted in blue deer.
Cut out some beetles, bugs and butterflies, lightly glued to table and sprayed over with silver spray paint.

Painted the roses and flowers on deer antlers with oil paints.

Then varnished the table top to protect it from little fingers and miniature scissors.

The finished Deer Kids Craft Table….